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I know this is similar to other questions like "1 cup chopped nuts" vs "1 cup nuts, chopped", but I wasn't sure about whether it applies to things that have liquid.

I was trying to make the pumpkin pie from America's Test Kitchen, and it calls for "1 cup of candied yams, drained". If I follow the convention for nuts, then I would drain after I measure a cup. But this seems imprecise, because there is a variable amount of liquid to begin with, so I would end up with a variable amount of yams afterwards. It would be more precise to drain before I measure.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

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    Welcome to Seasoned Advice! Coming from an area that uses weight more often than volumetric measures, I'll lean back, suppress a smug grin, and enjoy the answers...
    – Stephie
    Nov 25, 2016 at 19:23
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    @Stephie If anything, this matters more by weight: 100g undrained is very different from 100g drained, while 1 cup undrained isn't all that different from 1 cup drained; there's just water in the gaps.
    – Cascabel
    Nov 25, 2016 at 20:09

2 Answers 2

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Drain them first. Your concerns are spot-on, and if you measured and then drained them, you would end up with less than 1 cup of yams. Generally, you can tell be cause the recipe called for 1 cup of drained yams, not 1 cup of yams in their sauce.

Drain them, but double check that you won't need the liquid for anything later on in the recipe... That's a mistake I've made too many times with canned foods.

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  • Thanks! I would have liked it better if the author had followed your suggestion of "1 cup of drained yams", because then it would have followed the convention. Nov 25, 2016 at 21:52
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I'd be interested to see the version of the pie you're making. I found a version on the America's Test Kitchen website that calls for candied yams in addition to the pumpkin and the recipe actually says

"1 cup drained candied yams from 15-ounce can"

So, if the rest of the recipe looks like it's the same recipe you're using, it looks like they may have actually reworded it to clear up the confusion you're running into.

It seems the answer is, drain them first, then measure them.


As a note, I think the place this issue is most important is when talking about flour... "two cups flour, sifted" is very different than "two cups sifted flour". With something like nuts (unless it's extremely central to the recipe) I'd argue that whether you chop first or second may not make that big of a difference in the end.

I'd guess that yams will fall into this second category, too. The small amount of difference between the two is unlikely to do much other than make your pie slightly less deep. In particular, since you're discarding the liquid, there's no reason to ever include it in your measurement. Because the yams are in pieces, it seems that all the liquid is going to do is fill in the gaps that the yams don't fill up. Regardless of whether you drain first or second, there shouldn't be a difference in the volume of the yams (assuming you don't pack them in, which isn't called for in either version of the recipe).

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  • Hey, thanks for pointing that out to me! I got the recipe from their cookbook. It's from 2013, so it's possible that they've updated the recipe since then. The new ingredient item is also better because it mentions the size of the can to buy - in my cookbook, it lists it as "1 cup". Nov 26, 2016 at 1:50

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